wordjunkies

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2012 SWP Goodness: Week Three August 17, 2012

Filed under: Naropa University,Writing/Words — Annie Maier @ 12:49 pm
Tags: , , , ,

 Michelle Ellsworth: Brilliance in…

 

 

 

Disguise

verb

  • give (someone or oneself) a different appearance in order to conceal one’s identity
  • make (something) unrecognizable by altering its appearance, sound, taste, or smell
  • conceal the nature or existence of (a feeling or situation)

noun

  • a means of altering one’s appearance or concealing one’s identity
  • the state of having altered one’s appearance in order to conceal one’s identity

Yes, but brilliance disguised as what? I don’t know yet—stick with me and it may become clear. (Then again, it may not, but it’ll be fun at least for one of us—hopefully you, if not me as well.)

Day two:

50 million : 2 million

extinction of unknown species

Shape of books

 

At least I had/have some idea what these words meant—in their literal, etymological form, that is. Why I wrote them is another story. All, clearly, are open for conversation, and by day two it was quite obvious that Michelle Ellsworth is a woman who values conversation. Meaningful conversation. Which I love, even as I struggle to be an active participant.

The objective of day two, it seemed, was to delve further into obsolescence with a view to what it—the word, the definition, the myriad things thus affected—means to us personally. To find a way to connect with and so enter into dialogue with obsolescence. To this end, we spent the first half of class bottling our fears. No, not really. Only I did that, because as I’ve said, the idea of obsolescence is not one I embrace. Rather I find it frightening in a damn-it-all-to-hell, you-mean-I-can’t-fix-this? sort of way.

 

 

Laying out a collection of small glass bottles that looked like they came straight from a druggist—illegal or otherwise—and had been recently emptied, rinsed, and sterilized, Ellsworth instructed us to fill them with things we, in the event of their eminent demise, would want to preserve.

“Think of it (the exercise),” she instructed, “as leaving evidence of something unknown.”

A directive to which we, eight more or less intelligent students, responded by chewing on our pencil tips and trying to look thoughtful.

“Try not,” she continued over the sounds of our chewing, “to be too literal. Think of emotions/ideas/experiences/ambitions as species.”

There was a brief, almost imperceptible pause in our chewing.

“Think of your body,” yes, yes, we were with her now! “as an ecosystem!”

“I,” she then confided,” sometimes like to fill my bottles with spit. I have a collection.”

And here again was a small wave of relief: Ellsworth is brilliant for sure, but spit? Really? Blood donations and urine samples aside, the thought of even placing, much less SAVING, any body fluid in any container other than a napkin, tissue, or toilet is, to my Howard Hughes in training OCD brain, repulsive. And yet… I was relieved, because I love knowing that even brilliant people are normal in their own idiosyncratic ways. I love knowing that Einstein was a suck student who married his cousin, that Pythagoras thought beans were “evil,” and that Nikola Tesla wouldn’t touch anything round. And I found it entirely endearing that Michelle Ellsworth saves her spit. That, by the end of the week, I also found such practice artistically expressive and even intellectually edifying is further proof of her genius.

Anyway, back to the bottles. How would I fill mine? With words, of course. Some cut, teeny letter by teeny letter, from the SWP catalogue, others written, then erased, then saved as dust from the blackboard. I kind of like my bottle, and it did lead me, as Ellsworth promised to greater things.

And so I recommend this activity to you today. Think about obsolescence, what that means to you, and fill the container of your choice with some symbol representing that thing, or that meaning. And please, let me hear how it goes.

Then I’ll tell you what else I’m saving.

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2012 SWP Goodness: Week 3 August 10, 2012

Image

Photo From: The Objectification of Things, 2008; photo credit Juan Carlos Salvatierra

 

Obsolescent                                                                                                                                  

adj

  • the process or condition of going out of date or being no longer in use
  • falling into disuse or becoming out of date

Ignorant                                                                                                                                        

adj

  • destitute of knowledge or training
  • resulting from or showing lack of knowledge or education

 

Week Three: Science, Sanity, & Evolution

Michelle Ellsworth: Preparations for Obsolescence

(http://www.michelleellsworth.com/)

Okay, I have to change the format of these entries. This week, lists just will not work. Not only because my brain is pumped up on a combination of caffeine, adrenaline, and sleeplessness, but also because reviewing my notes from Week Three transported me right back to Lincoln Studio, Naropa University, June 25, 2012, rendering me semi-psychotic and thus completely incapable of orderly thought.

Objectives for Michelle Ellsworth’s (http://motivationalvideoarchive.org/) workshop were listed (in the SWP catalogue, which I have only thanks to Dennis Etzel, Jr.) thus:

“This class will look at the science of extinction on both a macro/physical and micro/emotional level. We will: 1) attempt to document and archive vulnerable information, 2) ask what will be missed when things/people/species go and how we can replace them with technology and art, and 3) consider poetic interventions that might buy us some extra time on the planet. Special attention will be given to the coping mechanisms of the Y chromosome and the chemistry of meat.”

I didn’t read this description prior to signing up, though. If I had I would have taken the week off and spent five days banging my head against the scuffed wall of my dorm. Instead, I scanned the week’s course titles, stopping at “Preparation for Obsolescence,” primarily because the mere thought of things and people I love going away scares the piss out of me. Family, friends, books, paper, independent radio, bookstores, ice cream stands, non-GMO foods, elephants, noiseless public spaces, Benefiber, tigers, Bert and Ernie, face-to-face conversations, rhinos, bipartisanship, unexplored areas of Earth… All are in danger of disappearing from our lives forever, fates that just so happen to be entirely beyond my mere-mortal control. Knowing this, I decided a while ago, a couple of years maybe, that whining like a four-year-old whose barely licked ice cream just vacated her cone was perhaps not the best solution. Rather, my defense in the face of such obsolescence should be threefold: whining like a four-year-old, plus conservation and preparation. I can knock all three out right here. Or at least I can describe the process. Not as good, but this is the internet, which is itself the primary enemy of half the things I hold dear. See, that was whining.

Anyway, about the course. If you don’t know Michelle Ellsworth (http://www.tifprabap.org/), or if your only exposure to her/her work was the Week Three panel, YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WOMAN. Better. You need to know her better. She is brilliant, and she is brilliantly f***ed up.

Entering her class that Monday morning, I immediately wondered two things: “How can any human being talk so fast?” and “How soon into this class will  become obsolete?” Five minutes in, I was breathless. Michelle Ellsworth (http://theatredance.colorado.edu/?page_id=671), meanwhile, never slowed down, never sat down, never even blinked. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But I’m telling you, as a person with anxiety issues of my own, being in the same breathing (or non-breathing) space with Michelle Ellsworth (http://theburgerfoundation.org/) made me dizzy, slightly nauseous, and quickly, JUBILANT!

Not too quickly, though. First I had to make it through the first day, which was comprised of three solid hours of my not having any idea what the hell she was talking about (see ignorant, above). None. I think I understood two words, “pen” and “computer.” Oh, and I think she said something about writing. In between these Annie-Maier-accessible words, however, were scores of others not so user-friendly. I’d tell you what they were except I didn’t recognize any of them and so couldn’t WRITE them down, not even with my PEN.

Oh, but wait, there is something I can share. Something I’m sure I only wrote in order to at least appear sentient.

This is a direct quote, from my notebook:

Borneo = Malaria—Mosquitoes = DDT = Poisoned grasshoppers—cats—and on—Cats croak, rodents flourish. Added 100,000s of cats.

Beneath that, I drew a picture of what looks like, I kid you not, an ice cream cone (definitely must have been channeling my inner 4-yr-old), and beneath that a stick figure cat. And beneath that, a quote from Michelle Ellsworth (http://centerwest.org/michelle-ellsworth/), because even though I didn’t know the meaning of said quote, I did recognize the actual words, at least enough to record them somewhat accurately. They were:

“(I) no longer trust language as (a) depository for MEANING (emphasis mine). Meaning (is?) in material (or perhaps immaterial). Things surrounding words.”

No clue. None at all.

Following a 1.5-hour “discussion”—because other people, remarkably, did not seem to be struggling, as I was, to understand this language—we took a break. While everyone else stood around excitedly waving their arms and making mouth sounds, I ran to the café for a double espresso, thinking the caffeine tremors might mask the fear tremors. Then I returned for round two.

Should I give you round two today?

No, I think not. I’m a bit wound up. Maybe I’ll go have another espresso.

 

Tomorrow on wordjunkies:

 

50 million : 2 million                                                                                                            

extinction of unknown species.                                                                                                      

Shape of books.

 

 

2012 Summer Writing Program Goodness: Week 2 August 4, 2012

Image

 

Inspiration

noun

  • the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative
  • the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions
  • the act of drawing in; specifically : the drawing of air into the lungs

Week 2:  Cultural Rhizomes and Intentional Communities

Alexs Pate (University of Minn)

Author information: http://alexsdpate.com/

Interview: http://www.pbs.org/ktca/litandlife/resources/pate.html

A confession: I have been known to choose courses based on stock photos of instructors.

For a typical week at SWP, I read through the offerings, culling course possibilities according to description. Anything “Performative” is out. Anything promising excursions “outdoors” is in. I’m like a three year old that way. Often, this step alone is enough to fill the month’s schedule. In the event, though, that I really can’t chose between class A and class G, I turn to the instructor bio. How this works has evolved over the years, as I went from terrified middle-aged woman reentering the academic scene on the wrong side of the podium, to giddy middle-aged woman impatient for a month-long retreat into the alternate reality that is Naropa. The first year, I specifically chose Jaime Marquez because he looked kind. That his class title also contained my favorite topic, “death,” nudged me in his direction, but the relaxed, curly-headed visage staring out from a 1”x1” photo cinched the deal. As my confidence built, safety became less important, as did knowing the instructor and his/her work. Challenging my beliefs, expanding notions of creative process, and honing my ability to discuss and debate social, political, and artistic issues became paramount. So, by this year, I was all about stepping out of the box. Any box. (As long as I didn’t have to sing or dance my way out.)

Reading the title of Alexs Pate’s class, “Engaging the Good: Community, Writer, Character,“ I was immediately sucked in. Who wouldn’t want to sit in a classroom for hours discussing goodness? Still, I have to admit to a certain amount of hesitation in pulling the trigger. Not due to Pate’s lengthy list of accolades (see intimidation, noun; the state of being timid; filled with fear; the feeling of discouragement in the face of superior fame or wealth or talent) or his wildly arcing hair and all black clothing, but because I was also really interested in another class being taught by a writer I knew and had worked with once before. I weighed the two in my head. Known or unknown? Stepping out or stepping up? In the end, I chose Pate, in part because his bio photo looked like that of a crazy man. A really nice crazy man.

Imagine my delight, then, in ascertaining, within five minutes of walking into the classroom, that he was a BRILLIANT crazy man. Even by Naropa standards, Pate is an out there genius, waving his arms, jumping around, shouting at us to stretch, to work and write and love the process, tossing the agenda aside to ask us what WE wanted to learn, offering a totally new perspective on… well, for me, everything.

Here are just a few of the ways Pate inspired me.

Explore

  • Aristotle (again!): Whatever moves us, physically and emotionally, to express and achieve our good in the world is good. Presented by Pate in relation to the idea of community. Good is not in opposition to evil. I have pages of notes on this subject, all clumped under one heading: WORKSHOP IDEA. More on that later.
  • “The Black Monk,” by Anton Chekhov. Is it better to be mad and happy, than sane and miserable? Is it better to be mad and know you are mad than to be mad and think you are sane? And, in my view, who is the real madman/woman? Read the entire, wonderful story here: http://www.online-literature.com/o_henry/1270/
  • Story triangle: You’ve seen versions of this triangle (such as Freytag’s Triangle) since high school. Here’s my interpretation, as dictated by Alexs Pate. Well, maybe not. I can’t get the damn thing to load. Here’s a written explanation instead, using, or horribly mangling, high school geometry and algebra! Point at top=A; Right Side=B; Left Side=C. Bottom=D. Now, replace for: B=Tension (imagine a bunch of squiggly lines crisscrossing this line, representing all hell breaking loose); A=Crisis (moment when the outcome of the story becomes inevitable-nothing else could possibly happen). C=Complicating factors (occurring throughout the story to prolong tension by distracting reader from crisis). And D=All the problems that arise in the course of story. This explanation sort of sucks–the graphic is much better, I promise. Let me know if you’d me to email you a copy.

THINK ABOUT THIS (all quotes from Alexs Pate unless otherwise noted)

  • Following the rules: “If you aren’t going to play the game, you’d better be damn good at your own game.”
  • Life: “Be a professional human being.”
  • Details: “Details are opportunities to provide subliminal information that builds the story (or scene or crisis) to a conclusion, an understanding. Readers don’t even know they’re being set up for the sucker punch.” Must be subtle and organic to be effective. Invisible.
  • Sublimation (in your story): Surrender to beauty; beauty captures the audience. THEN step in with politics.
  • “Writing is a sociably acceptable form of schizophrenia.” EL Doctorow.

Image

ASK THIS

  • As a writer, how can I best express my goodness?
  • How can I create characters who best express their goodness? Ask: What does s/he need to carry out her/his mission?
  • Think of characters as constructions first, then make them people.
  • How can I create stories that lead people to ask questions?

LOOK THIS UP:

  • The Domino Project: (http://www.thedominoproject.com/about) I love all things book, and so had high hopes for Seth Godin’s project, tagged, “A new way to think about publishing.” I can’t say I was disappointed, as it turns out Godin is indeed trying to look well beyond traditional publishing to engaged both readers and writers. And who can fault a project that lists this gem among its core beliefs: “Reward the sneezers who stand up and spread these ideas.” Nice. What’s not to like? The prominently displayed “powered by Amazon.” I’m an indie kind of girl, and I cringe at the mention of Amazon the same way I do Walmart. Both have their place, I know. Still I can’t offer a whole-hearted endorsement for The Domino Project without balancing what I can’t help see as somewhat negative retail juju with good. So, here’s a link to my two favorite indie publishers.
  • Small Press Distribution http://www.spdbooks.org/
  • Ugly Duckling Press: http://www.uglyducklingpresse.org/about/udp-story/

Thanks for reading. Hope you found something of interest here. Please feel free to add your own favorite notes of inspiration.

 

2012 Summer Writing Program Goodness: Week 1 July 27, 2012

Filed under: Naropa University,Writing/Words — Annie Maier @ 1:32 pm
Tags: , , , ,

 

 

 Normative

adj

  • establishing, relating to, or deriving from a standard or   norm, esp. of behavior
  • conforming to or based on norms
  • prescribing norms

In reference to and in direct opposition of:

Innovative

adj

  • (of a product or idea) featuring new methods; advanced and original
  • (of a person) introducing new ideas; original and creative in thinking

I could ramble on endlessly about the wonderfulness that is Naropa University’s Summer Writing Program. Rather than spend hours trying to distill four insanely packed weeks of literary exploration into any kind of coherent narrative, however, I’ve decided upon a decidedly non-normative approach. Quite fitting, as Naropa is a place where stuffy academic terms such as rhizomatic (adj; of, relating to, or resembling a rhizome) and nonnormative (adj; see above) are tossed around with great sincerity in an environment that was developed upon and now embodies, encourages, and promotes the antithesis of academia, ie, the individual.

Here, then, are several lists, to be presented in weekly installments, chronicling but a few of the many, many thoughts, ideas, sentences, theories and people that propelled me into and through a month of sleepless nights and frantic, word-filled days. If even one of the following stirs you in a similar fashion, I’ll count this blog a success. 

SWP 2012: Week 1: Archival Poetics and The War on Memory 

Prageeta Sharma (http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/2060), an impassioned poet and instructor who inspires not only through her own heartfelt writing, but also through the work of an array of artists and writers who stretch their work well beyond anything remotely resembling normative.

Explore:

  • Peter Greenaway: A Walk Through H (http://www.ubu.com/film/greenaway_walk.html), an amazing film (by an amazing artist/filmmaker) in which the “I” is presented as a fictional entity. Curating his own paintings, Greenway takes viewers through a maze of maps that contain images representing scarlet brick roads, letters, cities (Antilipe, Canterlupis, Hesgarden), windmills, bald eagles, an exiled pianist, blood oranges, and lots and lots of references to birds. What does H represent? Many things it seems, but H is definitely “not Heron”! Grab a cup of tea (or glass of wine, shot of vodka…) and give this one a watch.
  • Anxieties of Existence: Anyone who has read even one post of this blog knows that I am engaged in a more or less continual struggle to understand what roughly seven billion blobs of water and skin are meant to be doing while whirling about on this molten yet watery rock located three planets, a term which is itself remarkably fluid and open to contradiction, from the sun. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to guess the meaning and origins of the term “Anxieties of Existence,” but, intrigued, I nonetheless went in search of additional information. Enter philosopher Eric Voegelin (1901-1985). Voegelin didn’t coin the phrase, but did discuss it to some length. (http://www.voegelinview.com/ev/anxietyofexistence.html) As per Prageeta, Anxieties of Existence is also the name of an art installation, but I haven’t been able to locate any information on that. (If you have, please leave a comment!) Dead philosophers and existential artists aside, what I find MOST fascinating is that Anxiety of Existence has become the mantra for a whole host of sites and forums devoted to OCD! No shit! Just think of the artistic possibilities of THAT gold mine!
  • Blind Contour Drawing: Compliments of artist Cynthia Miller (http://www.cemillerart.com/image03.htm). Because this takes such discipline and patience, BCT is a great exercise in stilling the mind. To make your own: Take out a sheet of paper and pencil. Sit at a table. Turn sideways so your dominant hand is next to the paper. Hold up the opposite hand, but in such a way that you can’t see both hands and the paper at once. Now draw your opposite hand WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE PAPER! Do not lift the pencil. Do not peak. This may take a few tries. Once you have a complete drawing, think about how the process can inform your writing.
  • Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: The title of this book immediately intrigued me on a pretty basic level: I am a woman and I love fire and other dangerous things. That it turns out to have been written by a man (George Lakoff) and is about linguistics and the naming of things was, I admit, a bit of a disappointment. Whether it will prove to be an un-surmountable one (as in will I or won’t I read it) remains to be seen. http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780226468044
  • Tibetan Monastery Dance:

             Cham Dance photo courtesy of Core of Culture website

Another term of which I am woefully ignorant, but interested. This ritual dance, which is reported to have originated in India around 760 AD, is performed to familiarize believers with the deities they might encounter after death. Initially only monks performed the dances, called Cham dances, which could last up to 24 hours. Today lay people (and tourists) participate as well. Like many indigent languages, the culture and practice of Cham dances is endangered. http://www.coreofculture.org/cham.html

THINK ABOUT THIS:

  • What would happen if you curated your own work?
  • How can we create poetry that exists on and off the page?
  • What do I (you!) want my (your!) poem(s) to do?
  • Let in bewilderment/ambivalence; not everything needs an explanation.
  • What happens if we look at our poem(s) on the SENTENCE level? (Prageeta Sharma)
  • What if we risked madness and stared at our lives? (Richard Froude)
  • No really, WHAT IF WE RISKED MADNESS AND STARED AT OUR LIVES?

Gratitude

          

  • New friends, especially Ginger Teppner, Katelyn Hope, AJ Reavey, and Franco
  • Old friends, especially Raki, Rachel Melville, Melanie Klug, Kevin Gunnerson, Julie Kazimer, Lisa Birman… Oh, hell, this particular list is endless, but I am grateful for each and every one of the people who comprise and create SWP.
  • The Dushanbe Tea House, makers of sparkling hibiscus tea and the oh-so-tasty cucumber martini!
  • My bicycle, which allowed me to be wild, happy, and fuel-free for five blissful weeks.
  • Chickadees, which sweetly sang me awake every single morning (except for that one Saturday when the ass next door vomited for two hours).

 

To be continued…

 

Hauntings (part 3) June 1, 2012

Filed under: Writing/Words — Annie Maier @ 12:29 am
Tags: , , , ,

Previously on wordjunkies:

 

 

I’m a snake

(not a snail)

I shed my skin

like Mithral mail

 

Head and neck

no problem there

throat and shoulders

lick the air

 

Only catch—

as we found out—

is that my arms

can’t come out

 

No arms no hands

no words escape

No words no voice

no me takes shape

 

About those arms:

It was right after commenting on the half-assed state of my molt (noun; a loss of plumage, skin, or hair, esp. as a regular feature of an animal’s life cycle), that Life Coach Jackie mentioned my parents. As in, “How do your parents feel about your writing?”

Two damn good questions.

I don’t know how my parents feel about my writing. I have an idea. I conjecture. But without being able to ask, I’ve no access to the truth. By the time I decided to pursue words as a vocation my dad was dead. My mom… well, my mom offers no opinions.

Except…

Except where the book is concerned. Should that particular gathering of words ever see daylight, the remaining parental unit would not be happy. See:

 

Ballistic

adj

  1. of or relating to a body in motion according to the laws of ballistics (the science of the motion of projectiles in flight)
  2. extremely and usually suddenly excited, upset, or angry; wild

I know to expect such a Newtonian reaction not because I asked, but because Mom confronted me before I ever had the chance to ask. Said confrontation makes a good story in itself, but hang on, let me finish this line of thought first.

Is that why I stalled? Because my parents, one live and one dead, might or might not be happy with my words? Maybe. But not entirely. I stalled for a few reasons, I would think. That is perhaps only the most obvious.

“I have problems speaking,” I told LC Jackie. “Writing is easy, but when it comes to putting myself, my work, out there… Well, that doesn’t seem to be happening either. I write to a notebook, to my computer. I write a blog that’s read by people I don’t even know but not by the people I do know. I feel like two separate entities, Annie Maier who goes about her day doing whatever and… some other person who writes. I need to integrate the two. Or at least introduce them.”

Jackie said something helpful. I can’t remember what—by then I was thinking that I had turned into someone unfamiliar. Not in a larger, life context, but in a word context. Because, one thing I’ve never censored is my words, at least not the ones I could write.

A diversion: Put one or more writers in a room with a recently successful (i.e., published) nonfiction writer and someone invariably asks, “How do you set boundaries when writing real life?” or “How do you keep from hurting someone’s feelings?” or “What right do I have to write about other people?” To which the speaker invariably answers, “Your job is to write your story. Don’t think about ‘other people.’” Amen. I think about what other people think too damn much already. I can’t do it while I’m writing, too. Not and stay sane.

So what a surprise to find that yeah, I’m great at taking this advice while scribbling words to an invisible audience, but introduce real people into the situation and all hell breaks loose. Or rather all hell comes to a screeching halt.

Then LC Jackie said something else helpful, something I remember: “Lot’s of people live two lives where their families are concerned. Do you need your parents’ approval to get the book out there?”

Which is exactly when I realized I had told her nothing about the actual contents of the book.

“I don’t need their approval. I need…” Damn, what do I need?

Amid this struggle, Jackie asked, “Why do you think you stopped working on the book?”

Dammit all to hell. I thought having a life coach made things easier. “Well…” I stopped. Why? I’ve no idea. But I bet it has something to do with that skin trapped at my arms. “So, the book… The book is about… I wrote the book.” I was trying. Valiantly. “The book is about my dad.” Jackie made a sound, but held back any articulation. “The title is Please Kill Me and Other Life Lessons. I wrote it right after he died.”

I heard another sound, but forged ahead. Stopping then would’ve meant another 10 minutes of stammering, “He had a stroke. It was a miserable death. It took three years.”

“Wow,” Jackie said.

Yeah. Wow.

Or, whatever.

It depends on what day you ask me. And whether “you” is someone in my head, or someone outside my head.  It’s a heavy subject for sure. He was my dad. He died. It was miserable. But lots of peoples’ dads die. It’s often miserable. And lots of people write about it. I hear that some of them even publish what they’ve written.

To be continued? I don’t know. This whole exorcism thing is harder than I expected. Twisting necks and lava-vomit aside, the devil is no match for the demons we carry in our heads. Jackie is amazing and EFT is effective, but trying to relate the details of how and why is exhausting. I’m tempted to leave it up to you, the invisible audience. Do you want to hear more? But that seems cowardly. Aren’t I supposed to determine the direction of this blog? Or am I being sneaky, too sneaky even for myself? Changing the subject when things get tough.

Let’s talk about you.

How are your ghosts?

 

Earthly Ghosts May 18, 2012

May 18, 2012

So, it turns out I’m haunted

(adj)

  1. (of a place) frequented by a ghost
  2. having or showing signs of mental anguish or torment

The “place,” in this case, being my head. The “signs” including but not limited to cuticle biting, eye twitching, intermittent spells of spasticity and lassitude, anxiety (more or less constant), nightmares, night sweats, night terrors, and a fascination with death.

Far from being alarmed by said haunting, I am in fact quite relieved; I’ve known since pre-language toddlerhood that there was something other inhabiting the soft tissue encased in the slowly fusing bone mass that would become my skull. How nice, after all these years, to be able to address this suddenly concrete and thus assailable entity.

An aside: wouldn’t it be cool to find out that somewhere within the recesses of your body, perhaps buried deep within your liver or your spleen, there lurked a twin? I first heard of such a possibility on CSI, which was a decent series back before they killed off Gary Dourdan and William Peterson left the show. TV drama politics aside, the victim, who was really the perpetrator, did not take the news of his slightly unorthodox cohabitation well. (I can’t remember though if it got him arrested or got him off.) But really, think of the benefits! Live twins are said to be one of the closest, most perfect relations we can have, but even they, after all, have limitations. A micro-twin, on the other hand, would have all the benefits of a true mini-me without the obvious drawbacks. (Really, do I want another Annie Maier in my life? No. And you probably don’t either!) You could, for instance, call on your twin anytime of day or night without having to worry that he/she might not pick up the phone, or worse, that your brother/sister-in-law might pick up instead—because, clearly, if light-hearted banter was something you were good at, you probably wouldn’t be fantasizing about having a hairy bone mass lodged in your organs with whom you could have a conversation. You could visit without your twin without calling, take him/her out to dinner without a care as to who would pay the bill, and wear their clothes with complete impunity!

However, I digress.

My ghostly friend is neither dead nor encased safely in my spleen. And while I cannot reveal his/her identity, for fear of endangering the innocent (that is, me), I can say that he/she is someone with whom I am both intimately and irrevocably connected. I am not unique; we all  sanction the presence in our lives of at least one person who wants nothing more than to possess us. As is the case with my possessor, said people are often

Manifestation(s)
noun

  1. display, exhibition, presentation
  2. sign,indication, evidence, token, symptom, proof, substantiation, reflection, example, instance.
  3. outward or perceptible indication; materialization
  4. the state of being manifested, (that is) a conscious feeling, idea, and/or impulse that contains repressed psychic material

As such, my apparition at least must also, in addition to ruthless, insatiable and often cruel, be fairly labeled innocent. A fiend perhaps, but a reluctant fiend.

What, you may be wondering, if you are still here to wonder, in the hell has this to do with ANYTHING? It has to do with hesitation. With indecision. It has to do with goal setting, goal reaching, and self-constructed barriers. It has to do not with writing but with allowing what it is we have written to escape from our souls, our pens and and computer screens to a concrete existence in the greater, larger, infinitely more entertaining world. It has to do with my book. And maybe yours.

To be continued

(thank you to Liz Wong, illustrator)

 

Reality vs Fantasy (part 3) May 4, 2012

Filed under: Life — Annie Maier @ 9:09 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

May 4, 2012, oh, and May 7th. 

Previously on wordjunkies: blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah. Blah. Blah and blah, blah blah. 

Critical

adjective

  1. expressing adverse or disapproving comments or judgments
  2. having the potential to become disastrous (!!!)
  3. having a decisive or crucial importance in the success or failure of something
  4. expressing or involving an analysis of the merits and faults of a work of literature, music or art (more on this later) (perhaps much later).

Stay with me, the definitions/connections should become clear.

While writing/blogging/communicating, do you ever just want to say screw it? You write and parse and ponder, trying to come up with the perfect word combination/s, only to realize that despite the care you’ve taken, you’re somehow still missing the point. That’s how I feel. I wrote a sequel to last week’s blog, or at least the first few paragraphs, but even as I worked I knew it just wasn’t gelling. My words were factual, but not, technically speaking, true. Because by then, I’d lost my way. Cosmically speaking, what does it matter that I was late for an appointment? What do black holes, red undies, and uptown traffic have to do with anything? At least anything truly important? Not a damn thing.

My point, several hundred empty (and now discarded) words later, seemed to be that after decades of being me, I’d come to a conclusion: OCD may be controllable and anxiety familiar and perhaps inherent to Rizz0-dom, but juggling two personalities (Reality vs Fantasy) had become unsustainable.

But now, that is, a few short days, many bottles of wine (red, white, sparkling) shared with my lovely sisters-in-law (sister-in-laws?), 16 family members (beneath one roof), a dozen trips to and from the ocean, a message from a friend that I had to read 12 times to understand (thanks Drew) later, my conclusion has shifted. This moment, with my head and heart snuggled in the comfy throes of an alcohol-induced universal awareness, it seems to me that only thing crazier than my current state of having two people reside in my head would be undertaking to banish either one of them. Pragmatic and stubbornly delusional, I need them both.

So, forget the full brain overhaul. What I should do instead is focus on uniting the disparate sides of my personality in a way that is acceptable to both me (them?) and those I come into contact with. I need to be on time, yes, but I also need to maintain whatever quirks identify me; I need to control the bursts of smart-assed sarcasm that act as my only defense against the outside world, but without losing my (PG County born and bred) edge; and I need to accept that functioning as a “normal” adult may not ever fall within the ven-diagram chaos of my comfort zone. I can get up early, check the mail, and return phone calls in a timely manner. I can lay out my clothes the night before, make sure the gas tank is full, and keep  spreadsheets on debits, credits and receipts. But I can’t do any of those things simply because that’s what “responsible” people do. I’ve never been interested in being responsible (just as I’ve never believed in hell or obligation).All I want is to be a decent human being. If setting my alarm aids that process, then I’m all for it. But if clinging to a conventional ideal of normalcy is the only way to be accept-ed/able… well, I’m just not up to that particular task.

Nonetheless, I do want to accomplish a dozen or so things over the next 90 years, and one or two of them most certainly will require collaboration with other human beings, some of whom may have only one person tucked beneath their skulls. Yet another task that I have, up until this point, found if not impossible then damn near so.

And this, patient reader, is my point:

Think of my head as a plastic paperweight, filled with decades old water and in need of a good shake. Unsure of how to go about such a thing on my own (remember, I’m trapped in the paperweight), I sent an email to friend and not so long ago Qi Gong instructor, Jackie Burleson. Jackie is a life coach specializing in EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). (You can read about Jackie/EFT here: http://www.eccoaching.com/bio.shtml ) This wasn’t a particularly inspired decision, nor was it made overnight. As a serial vacillator I’ve often considered seeking out someone possibly cheaper than and/or less socially stigmatized than a psychiatrist to assist me in approaching such matters as getting dressed in the morning, making dinner, and/or leaving the house each day without simultaneously provoking a nervous breakdown. Fortunately, Jackie was amenable to the idea. Our first appointment is in a week. Before then, I have to complete a few simple tasks meant to address my most pressing issues. These are, as I determined during our initial phone consultation, releasing my book to the world, launching WordJunkies Press, and learning to “connect” to and with my fellow human beings. The first two are pretty clear cut. That last one may prove a bit more problematic.

Back to my initial point of (critical) contention: is any of this truly important? No. Not in the scheme of world peace, hunger, disease, and whether or not Demi is a drug addict or Madonna has had work. But I don’t live only in the greater world. I live in my head as well, and after all these years I’d like to escape, however momentarily. Because hitting a wall is no excuse for stopping.

 

 
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